Now, if you want me to name one of my cycling heroes, Emily is near the top of the list. At 23 and 24 years of age, she has ridden successfully both the 1200km Boston-Montreal-Boston (very hilly) and Paris-Brest-Paris (moderately hilly) randonnees on a fixed-gear bicycle. She'd ride anyone on the SS/FG forum into the ground, tell you more about cycling than most while doing it, probably whistle a few tunes (she is a musician), keep a really effevescent smile, and be extremely gracious and modest, all at the same time.
Fixed-gear touring is like everything else in cycling -- you need to try it to see if it suits you, and you need to equip yourself with the appropriate equipment.
I enjoy it for the simplicity and the "perpetual motion" that it entails. I ride with a 40/17 set-up. I took a 20T cog with me to Europe, but never needed to use it. I pack reasonably lightly, but then a tent and food was added along the way. Most of the hills we encountered were not particularly onerous, and on the really steep ones, I went as far as I felt able, then got off and walked. Macha was probably walking by that stage, too.
The bike is an old Shogun Tange steel frame, retrieved from the local dump. It has an assortment of new and old parts on it. It has cowhorn handlebars, not for the FG cache, but because I don't use the drops on my touring bike much, anyway, and I found the horns suited me. They are fitted with Shimano aero brake levers (yes, brakes for touring and for me, for any sort of riding).
The build came about after my Fuji Touring was blown over in a gust of wind and landed on the protruding end of the rear QR skewer with enough force and leverage to break the dropout (something I didn't realise until completing a 400km randonnee and wondering what the clunking noise was and why new gears and chains suddenly weren't shifting properly).
Oh, and I had better add, that riding fixed kept my speed down while touring so Machka wouldn't be left so far behind. In fact, it was not unusual for her to be just behind me at the tops of hills, and to zoot past me going down.
I use the bike at weekends at the moment to travel a 50km round trip on a fairly hilly route to do my shopping, which often can weigh more than my touring kit! I've yet to stop on any of the hills on the return trip.
my concern opposing the idea to go fixie which fascinates me, was potential knee issues. After this summers past geared tour (6000km, of a total of around 8g a years), my right knee (having had hard bangs riding flatland on this knee, as well as heavy weight training in my past), was beginning to make alot of noise and not allowing me the leverage (tendons?) i was used to. I am never in a rush, but i enjoy the ease of movement that bicycling was invented from, however, i also enjoy the idea of oneself connected in different ways to ones environment, an idea which has, i think in a post-modern sense, come with cycling's evolution.
I tour heavy. I think as an expedition tourist who loves the potential cycling has as a mainstream mode of transport here in N america, I beg to reform those who I encounter as non-cyclists, as well myself, in the process. This means enjoying, for me, the world alongside myself which I have become accustomed and realizing what should remain, as well, becomes essential in the process. rather than the nihilistic notion of cycle touring to oppose any and all values for which cycling and my personal interests ave evolved. Im talking about the analytical "logical positivist" idealism of "minimalist touring". Sure one can naturally live with nearly nothing and his bicycle in a money saturated country, or backpack living off the land alone, but to hypothesize one doesn't live off the land in any way one lives ones life, is a scary projection for me. As well then the choice to endorse such a nihilistic ideology seems potentially devastating. I enjoy having 3 or 4 books if im on the rode for months at a time, and a stove, painting supplies, room for tools, room for additional water to last remote lengths, and all the other comforts which are liberally on trial.
I do ride fixie around town, and the reason for this post, was to feel out what others got out of it, and as well, to test the idea of 80kg+ touring on others who have done so.
great posts guys, emily sounds like a rad person to know, and inspire from. I had the privilege of traveling through auburn CA, and met some endurance racers, wow! a friendly crazy breed.
If you travel heavy and have knee issues, then it's probably best to stick with gears. I've been riding for over 10 years, and relied on low-geared bikes up to now, and after building up four or five years a fixed-gear with a Peugeot frame (again another rubbish dump retrieval), and riding it about 500km in pretty hilly terrain, I knew my knees were strong enough to (a) ride fixed more and (b) use higher gears on my other bikes.
So far, so good with the knees. And I always stop before I think something might go "click" or "snap". But I am a firm advocate of using lower gears and higher cadences. If you really did want to go fixed for touring, choose a low gear-inch set-up, but be prepared to stay on the brakes a lot going downhill or spinning out to 180 to 200rpm. A single-speed in that case probaby would serve you better.
Sounds like you've honed your touring philosophies well.